Saturday, 24 November 2012

All the Trimmings

I saw the sign on the outside wall of the bar. Sunday Roast. Lamb and All the Trimmings. £10. Perhaps it was because I was hungry that it had some appeal. Or maybe it was just that the bar seemed clean, fresh, airy and welcoming. I went in, ordered a drink and sat at one of the tables. Before too long a waitress approached, menu in hand. ‘Are you having lunch today,’ she said, as she handed the menu to me.I took it from her but I had already made my mind up. ‘I thought I might try the roast…the lamb,’ I said, ‘but tell me…what are the…err, trimmings?’
She smiled. Almost condescendingly, I thought, but a smile was a smile at least. ‘That’s the bits that go with it,’ she said.
‘The bits?’ I queried.
‘Yes, the vegetables. It comes with vegetables.’
‘Vegetables,’ I said, ‘so vegetables are the trimmings then…the trimmings as advertised on the board outside?’
The waitress curled her bottom lip fractionally, an involuntary response to my question. Perhaps it was an unusual question but not a particularly taxing one and, since the expression ‘trimmings’ didn’t really explain a lot, I didn’t think it too unreasonable, as a diner who was about to be fed trimmings, that I should ask what they might be.
‘Well, yes, I suppose so,’ she replied.
She supposed…presumed…considered. That suggested that she wasn’t certain. A worry for me if I was to order trimmings.
‘Sorry, you suppose so? You mean you don’t know?’
‘No I do know,’ she said, ‘I didn’t mean it like that. I meant that you definitely get vegetables with the lamb.’
‘Well yes, I know you do. You did tell me. But you said that the trimmings were vegetables. So, tell me, what vegetables do you get?’
She folded her arms for some reason before she replied. ‘Peas, carrots and broccoli, Sir.’
I wondered why she had started to call me Sir.
‘So just three different vegetables then?’ I opened the menu. ‘But your menu says that you have peas, carrots, broccoli, sweet potato, cabbage, parsnip, kale, sprouts, runner beans and cauliflower. So when you say that the lamb comes with all the trimmings, which you did say are vegetables, it actually comes with just three, not in fact all of the vegetables you have on your menu. So really your board should say, roast lamb with three trimmings then? Oh and I could say that if the trimmings are indeed vegetables and you say it comes with all of them, then in addition to peas, carrots, broccoli, sweet potato, cabbage, parsnip, kale, sprouts, runner beans and cauliflower I might reasonably expect to get spinach, turnip and cabbage too, wouldn’t you say.’
I was certain that I saw her roll her eyes. ‘No, Sir. It doesn’t mean just vegetables –’
‘But you said it did.’
‘It means that it comes with other things. The trimmings mean other things. Not just vegetables.’
‘Well, I did ask you what the trimmings were and you said vegetables.’
'I’m sorry. I thought everyone knew what trimmings were.’
‘Did you? Not everyone does. Why would they? If I was in France and it had snails advertised with toutes les garnitures would it not make sense to ask?’
‘Snails Sir? I don’t understand.’
‘Never mind. So the trimmings, as advertised, are not just vegetables?’
‘No Sir. They are all the things that come with your meal.’
‘Oh I see. So then it must include the cutlery, a napkin, a table, chair, a table cloth, a plate for example? All for ten quid.’
‘No…no Sir…’ She glanced behind her at the bar as if looking for assistance. There was nobody available. ‘…it doesn’t –’
‘It doesn’t? No table, no plate, no cutlery. You can’t mean that the roast lamb, with its three trimmings, is just tipped on the floor in front of me surely? No…you mean I have to pay extra for those then?’
‘Of course you don’t Sir. They are…well…part of the…the deal…free…you get the chair…I mean, you know…’ She brushed her hair away from her face and let out a long sigh.
‘Oh so, they are not part of this mystifying all the trimmings thing then?’ I said.
‘Well…no…I mean. Look, you get peas, carrots, broccoli, roast potatoes, gravy and mint sauce.’
‘I see. Peas, carrots, broccoli, roast potatoes, gravy and mint sauce are the trimmings then. All of them, in fact…as advertised. Is that right?’
She looked at me suspiciously. ‘Yes,’ she said hesitantly.
‘Right. I think I get it now. Trimmings are the bits that go with the lamb.’
‘Well, yes.’
‘So if I wanted a fried egg sandwich I should never ask for a fried egg sandwich with all the trimmings as I would get peas, carrots, broccoli, roast potatoes, gravy and mint sauce to go with it.’
‘Err…no…no Sir. They just go with roast lamb.’
‘Ok. They are just the accompaniments, embellishments, appurtenances with that dish then?’
‘Pardon?’ the waitress said, her face screwed up as if I had begun to speak in an alien language.
I had another question. ‘Don’t you think it would be a little less confusing if you wrote something more specific about the meal on your board, that might tell the potential diner what they are getting instead of writing up some obscure, meaningless word like trimmings?’
She declined to answer my question and instead just pointed at the menu that I was still holding.
‘Would you like to order the lamb Sir?’
‘No, I’ll have the lasagne…and hold all the trimmings.’